Minister or Senior Minister
The senior minister (or ministers) leads in a process for discerning and clarifying vision, then gives leadership and supervision for implementing that vision through the various ministries of the church. To do this, a team approach should be developed with all staff members (paid and unpaid) and with all ministry groups and leaders of the church.
The senior minister is pastor-leader, preacher, challenger, trainer, teacher, resource, initiator, counselor and guide. However, he or she works with many other “members of the Body” who also “minister” to one another and the world.
Since each church and each minister is unique every church’s position description would show variance in some areas of leadership and expectations. The educational qualifications for those who are professional church leaders include a college degree and a Master of Divinity degree or its equivalent. Salaries, benefits such as retirement, health insurance, and professional expenses such as conference expense, continuing education and time off will vary in churches of varying size and ability to pay. Such items should be negotiated and agreed upon with the minister at the time of employment, and reviewed at least annually.
Responsibilities, accountabilities and opportunities for service need to be clarified with position descriptions for all professional staff persons, as well as with expectations and responsibilities of laity and their mutual responsibilities. The position description should clarify the responsibilities, mutually agreed upon performance goals, lines of accountability, and authority parameters for the senior minister and for each staff person. Similar position descriptions should be written for all leaders and workers in the church, for they bear responsibility along with clergy for the church’s performance.
Theology of Ministry
The theme of ministering is found throughout the scriptures. There are functional differences between apostles, prophets, teachers, pastors, and the general body of disciples, but the concept of the one body was and is the important image of the church. There is the call of God to the individual to be “set apart” as God’s servant in ministry, and there is the validating corporate call of a specific church to the individual to serve in a designated position as a minister to and with a congregation. Such ministry is founded in the ministry that Jesus provided: prophet, priest, and wise ruler. Therefore, ministers are preachers, teachers, leaders, and servants for our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Senior Minister is:
Accountable to: ultimately, to the church, corporately, who calls him or her; in day-to-day ministry, to the governing board with whom he or she works. With his or her leadership, the governing board determines the mission, ministry and policies for the local congregation.
Accountable with: fellow staff members (paid and unpaid) as a team and the congregation as a family for the total ministry of the local church life and the mission to the community and world.
Accountable with: area and region leaders, national denominational leaders, other churches, and ecumenical groups, for meaningful participation in and support of boarder mission efforts.
Accountable for: Vision Discernment and Mission Implementation
- Worship Leadership
- Administration of Ordinances
- Officiate at Weddings and Funerals of church members
Equipping the Saints for Ministry
- Teaching (Bible Study, Membership Classes)
- Training Leaders
- Evangelistic, Ethical and Discipleship Training (providing for training so that followers of Jesus will also make disciples)
- Premarital Counseling for church members
- Enable Congregational Care (training and encouraging members to care for each other as an example of their love for Christ)
Maintaining Board Governance and Boundary Principles
The Minister Shall:
- Lead officers, boards and committees in vision discernment and in long range and short-term planning and execution of their tasks by consulting, advising, coordinating and evaluating.
- In cases where there are part-time or fulltime paid staff, a team approach to ministry is desired with the senior minister functioning as coach/player. The senior minister supervises staff, develops staff, holds staff accountable for performance goals, and creates an environment for healthy relationships.
- Provide for office administration through staff or volunteers for assignments such as central record keeping of minutes, membership records, etc. for all boards, committees and church business meetings as well as reports of church officers.
Denominational and Inter-Denominational Activities
- Pledge to ABC Ministers Council Code of Ethics, and actively pursue those ideals.
- Participate in, and cooperate with clusters or associations, regional and national programs, events and activities.
- Cooperate with other local churches in appropriate ecumenical efforts and witness. Be involved in other community agencies and programs as appropriate and in keeping with the congregation’s vision and mission.
- Support denominational mission work and institutions as they are an extension and expression of the church’s vision and mission.
Personal Growth and Recreation
- Appropriate time for personal reading, research, and meditation.
- Plan for the completion of two Continuing Education Units or equivalence annually.
- Take one month vacation each year.
- Have one to two days off each week.
- Attend denominational and interdenominational conferences, conventions regularly and encourage other staff persons and members of the congregation to do likewise.
The governing board will evaluate the senior minister annually. The senior minister will conduct annual evaluations of staff members. Reviews should be based on mutually agreed upon performance goals established at the beginning of the calendar year. Each year, the board shall review the results achieved by the senior minister. Likewise the board shall review its own performance, or lack thereof, in achieving the goals it has agreed upon, noting those goals that have an influence upon the senior minister’s ability to achieve his or her goals. All raises and corrective actions shall be based on the results of this performance review.
Such appraisal on the part of the minister as well as the church leadership group can increase effectiveness as well as improve communications. Positions are likely to be rewritten when there are changes in staff. Evaluation can be a positive and growing experience with emphasis on the positive qualities of leadership, celebration of achieving objectives and the determining of new objectives. Unreached objectives or weaknesses in leadership can be discussed in love and with plans for improvement.
By Patti Duckworth, Mission Northwest, adapted from ABC/USA Ministers Council